The boys from Dundee are close to their best
Five or six years ago, if you were young and working class and wrote straightforward songs with catchy choruses on instruments made of wood, it must’ve been tempting to assume you couldn’t fail. The mid-noughties, after all, were a time when The Enemy, The Fratellis, The Pigeon Detectives(!) and The View could routinely expect to score Top 10 singles and Number One albums. If that scenario sounds far-fetched today, consider how it must feel to be in one of the bands in question, the riders of indie’s last wave of popularity.
The View were the most interesting of those bands by virtue of always appearing to give the least of a fuck. The early ‘Libertweens’ barbs were harsh – they were still just teenagers, after all – but by 2009’s ‘Which Bitch?’, they’d already proved too weird (and chaotic) to be considered careerist. So it’s surprising that the promo clip for this album’s lead single – featuring a series of women in various stages of undress and asphyxiation – smacks of that most cynical of attention-grabs, the ‘Shocking NSFW Video’. Perhaps that’s exactly what it is. But ‘How Long’ itself is great: a frantic little earworm of a song that takes precisely six seconds to reach its first chorus, and never lets up thereafter.
Much of ‘Cheeky For A Reason’ is like that. The production (courtesy of Arctic Monkeys veteran Mike Crossey) is even further removed from the mushy noise-wall of their first two albums than last year’s ‘Bread And Circuses’. It’s crisp, clean, enunciated and – given The View’s proclivity for breezy, whistleable melodies such as ‘AB (We Need Treatment)’ and the Britpop whimsy of ‘Anfield Row’ – an immeasurably better fit. What it’s emphatically not, despite Kyle Falconer’s proclamations, is “Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ as done by The Clash” – unless the rote, chest-beating triumphalism of ‘Lean On My World’ and by-numbers blandness of ‘Sour Little Sweetie’ were intended as qualifying factors.
The bits of ‘Cheeky For A Reason’ that work, however, are far more worthy of being dwelt upon. You know exactly where the Kieren Webster-sung ‘Hole In The Bed’ is headed from the second you hear its tinny, Libertines-y guitar intro, but that doesn’t make the journey any less enjoyable. The subdued ‘Tacky Tattoo’, meanwhile, finds Falconer at an electric piano and in uncharacteristically soulful voice, and is the most beautiful thing they’ve ever recorded.
Had this been the record they’d made after ‘Hats Off To The Buskers’, who knows where they’d be now. But it wasn’t, and at this point, it’s unlikely that the masses are going to find their way back to The View anytime soon. At least now they can justifiably claim their creative fire is kindling once again.